By a student of Rinpoche from China

At the end of October 2012, packing Rinpoche’s book, What to Do at India’s Buddhist Holy Sites, into my hand-carry bag, I started my auspicious “journey to the West” to Bodhgaya.

On Oct 25 and 26, we attended KF board meeting open sessions in the shrine room of Shechen Monastery. Many KF team members gave vivid presentations on what the foundation is doing, both in supporting Buddha Dharma and in building people. What impressed me most is that the people who work for KF are all volunteers. I realized once again how low-key Rinpoche is (as he always is), and of course how low-key KF is in fund raising.

On Oct 25, after the afternoon meeting, Digital Dharma, an 85-minute documentary on the life and work of Gene Smith, was shown. Just a few minutes after the documentary began, Rinpoche stepped quietly into the shrine room and watched the movie with us. In the documentary, when Lama Matthieu Ricard, a devoted student of H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, showed Gene Smith the room where Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche lived, Lama Matthieu prostrated before his portrait and then bowed his head to touch his seat. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I turned to look at the profile of Rinpoche, who sat so close to us. That moment reminded me to cherish every minute we could spend with Rinpoche, to study his teachings, and to practice Dharma diligently under his guidance.

Exactly as described in What to Do at India’s Buddhist Holy Sites, at first glance, Bodhgaya looks nothing like a holy site, with the dirt, dust, noises, beggars…but once inside the Mahabodhi temple compound, I could immediately feel the special auspicious atmosphere created by collective devotion from Buddhists coming from all over the world, and the immense blessings of Shakyamuni Buddha and all Bodhisattvas.

One early morning, Rinpoche gave the precious Bodhisattva Vow under the Bodhi Tree. Rinpoche was already sitting under the Bodhi Tree when we arrived, chanting a sutra in a low voice. We sat behind him silently. Then he stood up and began to lead the Bodhisattva Vow. When I heard Rinpoche’s words, ”Bodhisattva Vow is the best vow you could take for yourself, you have no reason not to take it, how can we refuse giving all sentient beings temporary and forever happiness?” tears came into my eyes again.

Back in my mundane life now, each time I am aware that I’m impatient or I’ll lose my temper, Rinpoche’s words come to my mind. I’ll never forget my Bodhisattva Vow in front of Rinpoche under the Bodhi Tree. I’ll try my best to treat every sentient being I encounter with infinite generosity, perfect discipline, and untiring patience. Before Bodhgaya, I couldn’t imagine that I would have the courage to take the Bodhisattva Vow because I never thought I would be qualified. But after my visit to Bodhgaya, with the blessings of Shakyamuni Buddha and Rinpoche, I have strong aspirations to take it again and again in this life and in all my future lives.

Photo by James Hopkins